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  1. #1
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    What's average speed of a CAT 5 race?

    I'm considering a Cat 5 race in about a 7 months... just for fun. But, I don't want to enter and then get left WAY behind, and finish a half hour behind the pack.

    So, I'm wondering, what is the average speed for a Cat 5 race, 30 miles long?

    I can hold 16 to 17 mph for 30 miles, riding in rolling-hills type terrain, alone, while stopping at most stop signs. I'm sure I can suck a wheel and ride 20mph for 30 miles.

    If I try a race, think I'll get left behind?

  2. #2
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    "If I try a race, think I'll get left behind?"

    Yes. Everybody gets dropped, especially in their first few races. It's not the average speed that gets you (usually), it's the accelerations - at the start from 0 to warp 9 (better not miss your pedal!) - during the race as attacks happen - and at each corner if it's a criterium.

    My advice - do some fast group rides. Get some buddies who have raced to take you to an empty parking lot and show you how to corner really fast, sprint, repeat.

    And don't wait 7 months.
    * posted by Creakybot 2013 all rights reserved.
    * not actually waterproof.

  3. #3
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    7 months? If we're talking America, I don't know about racing in December...

  4. #4
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    My last CAT 5 crit in Colorado was a 25mph average after I downloaded my data from my Garmin 305.

  5. #5
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    Go do some fast group rides. I typically ride alone, but try to fit in a group ride once a week right now. The speeds are A LOT faster and the physiological demands are very different. The group rides I go on have maybe a 10 minute warm-up to get out of town, then we ride maybe 20-24 mph range (depending on the grade of the road) for the rest of the first half, then it gets really cranked up and the better riders form a good rotation where speeds are more in the 26-30 range. You've got to go do that kind of riding to get used to it and the different physiological demands. My average watts on one of those rides is lower than on many of my regular training rides (even endurance pace). My normalized watts are more like a tougher workout on my own, such as an endurance ride with a long tempo effort thrown in there. But the variation in wattage is very, very different and the stress on my body feels more like a moderate interval workout.

  6. #6
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    Like Creakyknees said it's not the average speed that matters...

    I did my first crit a couple weeks ago and like most people I got dropped...

    No biggie, I expected it and it gives me something to work towards...Sticking with the group...

  7. #7
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    Whoops... not seven months, I meant seven weeks. It's a CAT 5 race... I was hoping it would be a bunch of 230 pound, old and slow guys like me....maybe not.

    I haven't ridden in a group (except for a slow poke charity ride) for nearly 20 years. I'm riding alone, not because I want to, but because my schedule doesn't allow much time to ride with a group.

    My riding schedule is.... "hey, I think i've got about a 90 minute to two hour window here to get some miles in"....

    Twenty years and nearly 50 pounds ago, I rode with a group nearly every weekend. We would turn out 30 miles in about 90 minutes easily. The group was typically five guys and one woman. We would warm up for about ten or fifteen minutes at 16mph, and then run 22 to 24 mph the rest of the ride. These days, groups seem to average 25 to 26mph with ease. I don't know if the people are stronger, the bikes are lighter, or maybe it's the ease of index shifting.... or all of it....but it sure seems like people are faster now.

  8. #8
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    Unless extremely hilly and windy, a 16-17mph average would seem a little anemic if you're planning on racing. If you can draft around 20mph, you might be fine, but Cat 5 tends to have a lot of attacks that sometimes defy logic, but you can't allow yourself to get gapped from the pack. It's the accelerations that will probably get you.

    As others have said, average speed doesn't win races and there's no real way to predict how you'll do in a race. Racing is the only way to see how you'll do in a race. You'll probably get dropped in your first race. Almost all of us did. It's not the end of the world.

  9. #9
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    do yourself and the guys you'd be racing with a favor and find a club and do some fast group rides and training races. You'll not only get faster but learn some race skills so you don't take out riders in your first race by causing a crash - not a good way to meet local racers.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by spade2you
    Unless extremely hilly and windy, a 16-17mph average would seem a little anemic if you're planning on racing. If you can draft around 20mph, you might be fine, but Cat 5 tends to have a lot of attacks that sometimes defy logic, but you can't allow yourself to get gapped from the pack. It's the accelerations that will probably get you.

    As others have said, average speed doesn't win races and there's no real way to predict how you'll do in a race. Racing is the only way to see how you'll do in a race. You'll probably get dropped in your first race. Almost all of us did. It's not the end of the world.

    +1

    I learned another important lesson today - Don't attempt a 2 rider breakaway with one lap to go.

    I came into New York here on Thursday, and brought my bike. I plan on keeping my training up, and decided to do a few crits after doing the 5 race series these last few weeks.

    I felt AWESOME the whole race, and with one to go, some guy attempted a breakaway, and I stupidly went with him.

    With about a 1/2 lap to go ( laps were 1 mile long ), I knew I couldn't keep the pace, and slowed down to let the peloton catch back up, and to attempt to recover and be with the main group at the final sprint.

    In the end, I didn't have anything left in the tank, and finished in the top 10 out of 50+ riders.

    Perhaps it was a good thing, becuase the winner and about 5-6 other got tangled up 25 feet after the finish, and it was total carnage.

    The winner broke his carbon frame ( I think it was a Cannondale Team Liquigas ) along with a brand new set of Zipp 404's on demo from a bike shop.

    I'll learn. This is a learning and strategy game.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by petalpower
    +1

    I learned another important lesson today - Don't attempt a 2 rider breakaway with one lap to go.

    I came into New York here on Thursday, and brought my bike. I plan on keeping my training up, and decided to do a few crits after doing the 5 race series these last few weeks.

    I felt AWESOME the whole race, and with one to go, some guy attempted a breakaway, and I stupidly went with him.

    With about a 1/2 lap to go ( laps were 1 mile long ), I knew I couldn't keep the pace, and slowed down to let the peloton catch back up, and to attempt to recover and be with the main group at the final sprint.

    In the end, I didn't have anything left in the tank, and finished in the top 10 out of 50+ riders.

    Perhaps it was a good thing, becuase the winner and about 5-6 other got tangled up 25 feet after the finish, and it was total carnage.

    The winner broke his carbon frame ( I think it was a Cannondale Team Liquigas ) along with a brand new set of Zipp 404's on demo from a bike shop.

    I'll learn. This is a learning and strategy game.
    Yikes. Crashing always hurts the body and the wallet.

    In regards to strategy, you're probably right, but not everything works (or doesn't work) 100% of the time. When it's all said and done, you really can only say what did or didn't work.

    Last year at a crit (that's happening right now while I'm stuck at work), a friend of mine was doing his last race in Cat 5 and was significantly stronger than the field, so he broke away at the first lap and stayed away! He and another rider were more than enough to survive the field! I still kick myself for not jumping on that move, but I was pretty sure at the time that I probably would have been beyond my limits even in the slipstream.

    At my last RR, I saw riders being allowed to escape the field one by one. Naturally, they bonked and were spit out the back. I decided to make a move with 2 other guys and suddenly the field woke up and would not us to get an inch on the pack. Fortunately, this was far enough from the finish that we had time to recover, but despite being a Cat 5 field, we were marked from the start.

    I also made an attack near the sprint since I suck at sprinting, which also didn't work, leaving me to wonder how I could have done if I sat in until the final sprint. Oddly enough, I think I probably would have had a similar result since I really suck at flat sprints.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesbike
    do yourself and the guys you'd be racing with a favor and find a club and do some fast group rides and training races. You'll not only get faster but learn some race skills so you don't take out riders in your first race by causing a crash - not a good way to meet local racers.
    Group riding is a good way to get your feet wet and learn to ride in a pack. Keep in mind, you might have various categories at a given group ride. A group of Cat 3s and 4s is going to be very tough for a beginner, so keep this in mind and don't get discouraged.

  13. #13
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    "Don't attempt a 2 rider breakaway with one lap to go"

    Why not? it may not work 3 out of 4 times, but if you don't try things, you'll always finish in the pack.

    How about a two rider break, one lap into the race? (three times) twice first, the other second.
    Or a solo break with 10 minutes left in the race? First
    Or a two man break with 5 miles left in a road race? First.
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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  14. #14
    Climbs like a sprinter...
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    I got my ass kicked today.
    "It's turtles all the way down."

  15. #15
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    My friend did his first cat 4/5 Tuesday Night Worlds, and reported the average as right about 25mph, which sounds about right.

    For a ~60 minute event, the average for a 3's race seems to be about 27mph. For the 1/2's it can be close to 30.

    But, really, it's not so bad. Like everyone says, as long as you're in the wheels, it's easy. It's only when you try to make a move, or get gapped, that it's hard.

  16. #16
    Climbs like a sprinter...
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmxhacksaw
    I got my ass kicked today.
    I just got done watching Coop's Rob Roll videos and the one where he is talking about Radio Shack being the best team and they're out there hammering it and your just back there hanging on to a wheel hoping they slow down - that was me today. I did a 50 mile ride with two other guys today (both Cat 5's but very strong/experienced) and it was 27-30 mph most of the way. We finished with an avg. speed (as we rolled into town at the 48 mile mark) of 24.67 mph. I was hanging on for dear life - especially when they had the pace up over 30 mph. I would try taking a pull every once in a while (and slow us to 25-26mph) but for the most part is was awful. Oh, the best part was when it started snowing/hailing. The last 15 miles I couldn't even grab a drink because we had a tail wind and they put the hammer down and it was all I could do to not lose the wheel in front of me let alone eat or drink.

    BTW, as a frame of reference, I am a 48year old Cat 5 that just started racing.
    "It's turtles all the way down."

  17. #17
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    Hahahahaha

    Quote Originally Posted by bmxhacksaw
    I just got done watching Coop's Rob Roll videos and the one where he is talking about Radio Shack being the best team and they're out there hammering it and your just back there hanging on to a wheel hoping they slow down - that was me today. I did a 50 mile ride with two other guys today (both Cat 5's but very strong/experienced) and it was 27-30 mph most of the way. We finished with an avg. speed (as we rolled into town at the 48 mile mark) of 24.67 mph. I was hanging on for dear life - especially when they had the pace up over 30 mph. I would try taking a pull every once in a while (and slow us to 25-26mph) but for the most part is was awful. Oh, the best part was when it started snowing/hailing. The last 15 miles I couldn't even grab a drink because we had a tail wind and they put the hammer down and it was all I could do to not lose the wheel in front of me let alone eat or drink.

    BTW, as a frame of reference, I am a 48year old Cat 5 that just started racing.
    Did you have a tail wind of 20mph and slightly going downhill? Please check the set up of your speedometer.... Unless your group was all on TT or Tri bike on the flat, I call BS on your story. You are talking cat 1 speeds there bbubba.

  18. #18
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    We do a Wednesday morning hammerfest with some great riders and triathletes (Cat 1/2). The speed hops into the low 30's for spurts. Usually in the high 20's. The final hill climb is usually in the mid-20's with guys dumping water out of their bottles on the way up to save weight.

  19. #19
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    My first cat 5 crit avg'd 24.7 mph... All of my other cat 5 races had a slower avg. But honestly it depends on the race. My last cat 5 road race avg'd 23, but it was fairly easy because it was a huge group until 1k to go. Obviously that last 1k was killer, but riding 25-26 mph in a peloton is fairly easily. The stressful part was riding 3 to 5 wide with people in front and behind, worrying about someone else doing something stupid wrecking you.

    There are usually some strong riders in CAT 5 simply because they don't have the racing experience. A fast weekly group ride is excellent for learning how to use the draft and basic pack riding skills/tactics.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by zion rasta
    Did you have a tail wind of 20mph and slightly going downhill? Please check the set up of your speedometer.... Unless your group was all on TT or Tri bike on the flat, I call BS on your story. You are talking cat 1 speeds there bbubba.
    Tailwind, all flat.

    But for the record I won the 2009 Bear Lake Classic. 52 miles in 2 hrs. 4 minutes. While the bulk of the pulling was shared by others in my class that's an avg speed of 25.1 mph.

    So what you're saying in other words is that you basically suck. Lay off the ganja, mon and you might go a little faster.
    Last edited by bmxhacksaw; 05-22-2010 at 07:21 PM.
    "It's turtles all the way down."

  21. #21
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    Try to ride with others faster than you, and do more interval sessions. That's pretty general advice. When you ride with others you'll hurt yourself more than usual. Turn your heart rate monitor/speedo around so you can't see it.
    Before my first race waaay back in 1998 I rode with Cat 1-3's. It was a hilly 42 mile Cat 5/beginner race. I got tired of the pace and rode off the front and won in the last half of the loop. My first crit I got dropped, the constant accelerations killed me. On the plus side, even though I was a half lap behind people still cheered for me.
    Your average pace sounds a bit low unless there is quite a bit of climbing involved. It can't hurt to try a citizen class race. Just be prepared to bury yourself at the beginning and after a while you'll either fall off or begin to stabilize and hang on.
    Race to train, and train to race.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by petalpower
    My last CAT 5 crit in Colorado was a 25mph average after I downloaded my data from my Garmin 305.
    colorado riders are faster. colorado does not have cat 5 for road. everyone starts in cat4.
    first race, bottom 5 finish but had fun.

  23. #23
    Climbs like a sprinter...
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    ***Oops, I forgot about getting motor-paced for a couple of miles
    But on a 50 mile ride a couple of miles wouldn't have made a big change in the average.
    "It's turtles all the way down."

  24. #24
    rebmeM weiveRekiBdaoR
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    I see avg of around 25, but you can bet the fast guys will be
    doing 30 for the first few laps/miles, and again at the end.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug B
    I haven't ridden in a group (except for a slow poke charity ride) for nearly 20 years. I'm riding alone, not because I want to, but because my schedule doesn't allow much time to ride with a group.
    I would not even attempt the race until you have ridden in some groups, preferably larger groups that average 20+mph. My last Cat5 road race averaged 22.8mph with 2 minute stretches averaging over 30mph and a peak 30 minute average of 25.6mph.

    Cat5 races tend to be a bit sketchy, so you definitely should feel comfortable in a large group before attempting one.

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